We all know the commonly used phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child.” And in many parenting journeys, including mine, this is wholeheartedly true. There are those individuals who support and encourage us as parents, and there are those who contribute to the well-being of our children. Counselors, teachers, coaches, grandparents, aunt and uncles, family friends, neighbors – to name a few.
These individuals have become even more vital during the season of COVID-19. I’ve witnessed how essential it is for children to have people who care about them, and I’ve never seen a greater need for relationships in the lives of children than during this global pandemic. This has been a focus for me, as a parent and as an employee of a non-profit who seeks to assist children. My goal has been to continue supporting and nourishing these types of relationships as they are showing to be of great importance in helping children cope with the increased stress and trauma of the past year.
Becoming so engrossing in this type of work, it’s difficult to look inward and see how we, as adults, are also affected by a lack of socialization and friendships.
Don’t we all need people? Love, care, connection – don’t we all do better when these are present in our lives?
It takes a village. That phrase, in my mind, has always been associated with parenting. But lately, I’m the one who has needed a village. Throughout 2020 and into 2021, I’ve needed people more than ever.
I would have never guessed how much I would need community. Even at the beginning, completely ignorant and unknowing of what was to come, I remained positive.
“It will be fine.”
“This is something we’ll get through.”
“I can handle this.”
Then we started learning more, and we began to see our everyday lives change in unforeseen ways – masks, quarantine, stay-at-home and shutdown orders.
And again –
“I don’t mind some extra time spent at home.”
“I’ll be able to rest and get my house clean.”
“I’ll be able to do so many activities with my son.”
And, it was fine at first. I spent extra time with my husband. My son and I did puzzles. We painted. We learned new games. I had more time to clean my house and do tasks I never had time for before.
Then, it slowly crept in. I missed my co-workers. My friends. My family. I began to fully appreciate being able to participate in society and have interactions with others on a daily basis.
I came to find how I took the little things for granted. Dropping off my son at school in the morning and watching him walk in with his buddies. Going into my office each day and having coffee with co-workers. Having lunch with a friend. Just doing life. It’s a strange sensation to suddenly have all of that taken away from you without notice. We all knew this virus would take a toll on our physical health, but I don’t think we expected it to also affect our mental health as it has.
A few months later, I contracted the virus. I became instantly fearful, and not even just about the actual sickness, but because of the loneliness that comes with quarantine. I am incredibly grateful that I got to spend that time with my son and my husband. I don’t know what I would have done without those two. But, I did miss the fulfillment I gained from my other relationships outside of the home.
What I quickly learned was essential to me getting through this? My village.
And, my village showed up.
My in-laws made food and dropped it off on our doorstep. They made sure we fed – and fed well. My mom brought comfort items including bath bombs, socks, tea, chocolate.
My friends showed up at my house and talked to me through my door or at a distance in my backyard. They delivered coffee. They bought me feejays (if you don’t know what these are, do yourself a favor and find out.) They made sure we connected daily through texts, Snapchats, and video calls.
My co-workers offered to pick up the slack and take on extra tasks to ensure I was resting and not feeling the need to work while I was unwell.
We were in the midst of planning a wedding during a pandemic (which we already postponed once.) And we continued to receive encouragement and reassurance – “Everything will be okay.”
Friends. Family. They just continued to check-in with me to ask, “What do you need?”
These conversations, these interactions, these small acts of kindness probably seemed so easy and simple to them, but little did they know, they were vital for me.
And it wasn’t just about having good food, or still getting my Starbucks fix, or being able to relax in a bubble bath. I was provided comfort. I was given security and peace of mind. I was reminded about self-care. During a time filled with anxiety and worry, my village told me – rest and recuperate. Take care of yourself.
I understand the damage and devastation this virus has left in its wake. I see how people’s lives have been turned upside down. Many people have had much worse experiences than I did, and I’m not pushing any of that aside. But, the light at the end of the tunnel? I see us extending grace to one another. I witness growth in patience and understanding. I believe we’re learning more about confronting situations with kindness and compassion. We’re coming together; we are being a village.
I hope we can continue to be cautious regarding each other’s physical health as we keep experiencing this unprecedented pandemic. But, let us remember to also protect one another’s emotional and mental health in the ways we are able to. This is a call to rally around friends and family. We need people. We need each other. Even though, for now, it must be in unconventional ways, I hope we can find ways to be there for and with one another.
I, from the bottom of my heart, thank those who have been there for me.